Dramatic finish against East Thurrock United keeps St Albans City’s play-off hopes alive
- Credit: Archant
The finish may be talked about for a long time to come but maybe destiny is finally smiling on St Albans City and their play-off chase.
Trailing 1-0 with five minutes to go Clovis Kamdjo struck twice, the second in the eighth minute of a tempestuous added period sealing a 2-1 win.
Those added minutes also saw two sent off, with Tom Bender’s dismissal a huge blow for any post-season hopes harboured by City.
It does move them back into the play-off places and even if that is only for 24 hours or so it is the momentum it could generate that will be crucial.
And the celebrations of manager Ian Allinson goes to show just what a result this could be.
What the crazy finale masks slightly is that this wasn’t a deserved win, not that anybody inside Clarence Park will moan about that.
St Albans have a habit of falling flat on their face against sides in relegation trouble and the first half did little to dispel that fact.
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East Thurrock are still likely to be relegated this season but showed they are not willing to go do without a bit of a fight.
And they should really have been in front by the break.
Set-pieces were their main threat and two early deliveries fizzed across the City defence brought panic in their wake.
They also enjoyed plenty of luck when the ball was played up to the strikers, with the Saints defence giving them far too much time to turn and test Dean Snedker.
The City keeper had to make one fine save with his legs to deny Alex Osborn and Sam Higgins pulled a shot across goal and wide from the right-hand side.
Steve Sheehan had their best chance with a free header but they couldn’t find the breakthrough.
They also had a huge shout for a penalty as Reece Dobson cut inside and the ball struck Ben Wyatt’s hand.
Fortunately for the Saints man his arm was down by his side and that’s what saved him.
He won’t be so lucky next year.
Solomon Sambou was guilty of spurning St Albans City’s best chances at the other end, simply by not pulling the trigger.
Three times he had a sight of goal but each time he decided to take an extra touch and the opportunity was lost.
The best chance came after just three minutes but instead of turning and hitting it first time, he took that fateful touch.
Ironically the subsequent cross from Khale Da Costa that was deflected up off a Thurrock defender onto the roof of the net was the closest Saints came to scoring.
The start to the second half didn’t appear to bring any swing in the momentum but after six minutes Saints were given an unlikely way back into it with a free-kick inside the box, given for a back-pass.
Bender’s effort was straight into the wall but it lit a fire under St Albans and a succession of corners looked like bringing a reward.
One saw a Bender shot inches away from being turned in by Lewis Knight but East Thurrock managed to ride out the storm and even create chances of their own, Ryan Scott forcing Snedker to tip his header over the bar.
And the moment that had been threatening to come finally arrived on 72 minutes.
And again it involved far too much space on the edge of the box, with Amos Nasha able to pick his spot without hitting it as cleanly as he probably wanted.
The strength of the shot certainly wasn’t the reason the ball squirmed through the back of the net, causing an unnecessary delay, one that in the end proved to be massive.
Kamdjo’s equaliser was probably the first real shot on target but he pounced after a long throw looped up to him.
And the winner sent the 903-strong crowd loopy, Kamdjo again finding himself in the right place to sweep home a rebound.
Bender’s straight red card will be a blow to Allinson’s men, given for a tackle of Danny Harris but the East Thurrock man is a lucky boy for not having action taken against him for kicking out twice at the City man.
Ibrahim Sori-Diallo was the East Thurrock man to get a red card shortly after with a second yellow card.
It all added to the tapestry of an amazing finish.
St Albans City: Snedker, Kaloczi, Bender, Diedhiou (Joyce-Dwarika 78), Knight, Clark, Wyatt, Sambou, Merson (Moyo 65), Da Costa (Sole 71), Kamdjo.
Subs (not used): Bonfield, Geller.
Goals: Kamdjo 85, 90+8’
Booked: Knight 25
Sent-off: Bender 90+1
East Thurrock United: Giddens, Burns, Sori-Dallo, Nasha, Scott, Sheehan, Harris, Lee, Higgins, Osborn, Dobson (Batt 70).
Subs (not used): Nzengo, Prestedge, Ekpiteta
Goal: Nasha 72
Booked: Sori-Diallo 68, 90+4, Lee 90+1
Sent-off: Sori-Diallo 90+4
HT: St Albans City 0 East Thurrock United 0
Referee: Tom Bishop (Islington)